Karla Cardno's killer Paul Joseph Dally preparing for eventual release after decades in prison

Karla Cardno and her killer Paul Dally.
Karla Cardno and her killer Paul Dally. Photo credit: File

By Jimmy Ellingham for RNZ

A man who's spent more than three decades in prison for the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl has been told to prepare for a shock when he's finally released.

Paul Joseph Dally appeared before the Parole Board on Wednesday from Auckland South Corrections Facility in Wiri. He did not seek parole, but instead the board heard about his efforts to get ready for an eventual release.

Dally has previously been denied parole multiple times.

When he gets out it will be to a much changed world, one board members said he would have to get to grips with.

Dally, aged in his mid 60s, kidnapped, raped and tortured Karla Cardno in Lower Hutt over 22 hours in May 1989 after snatching her off the street when she was biking home from a local shop.

He buried her alive in a shallow grave at Pencarrow, near Wellington. Her body was found six weeks later.

After his conviction for murder he was jailed for life in 1990.

Dally's appearance has changed markedly since he was captured in grainy black and white images when he was younger. Now he's bespectacled and has a long grey goatee.

Today, board member Dr Jeremy Skipworth told Dally the board would see him again in April, and he had plenty of work to do.

"Between now and when we see you again we want you to focus on developing your safety plan," Skipworth told Dally. "It's good to hear you're currently engaged with that."

Skipworth said it would be good if Dally organised more guided releases from prison, allowing him to experience a modern world that had passed him by while he had been locked up. He also must secure long-term accommodation.

Board chairperson Sir Ron Young told Dally he would have to think about how he would survive, for example, a trip to the supermarket, as that was different to ordering food from Wiri - which is what Dally does now.

Suppression orders mean much of the discussion at the parole hearing cannot be reported, and there are restrictions on quoting Dally verbatim.

But, he said he had in recent months moved into a self-care unit with other men about his age.

There, he did everything for himself, including cleaning and cooking from his $60 weekly budget. He would get up early and took regular walks around the grounds, and had noticed an improvement to his health as a result after what he said was 2 1/2 years of isolation in prison.

He was also getting used to simple tasks such as looking after a swipe card and key, after so long having prison staff lock up. He had a guided release into the community planned later this month, which he looked forward to.

Dally acknowledged the changes in the outside world. He had only known using cash and was not familiar with electronic cards.

A safety plan is developed for offenders' release from prison, where they outline what led to their offending and what risks were present, and what they would do when such risks arose.

Skipworth questioned Dally about the one he had produced, which he was now developing further with a psychologist.

"If I didn't know about your past history of offending and I read your safety plan I would have no idea that you were a serious violent offender and sexual offender," Skipworth told him.

"There's nothing in there really about either of those areas of high risk. The only high-risk situation that you mention is about relationships."

Dally replied that he understood what the plan was about and that the risk of violent or sexual offending needed more attention.

When questioned further by board member Waimarama Taumaunu, Dally spoke about how he needed to process situations when they were getting him down. He should take care of himself rather than dwell on pressures, such as financial or relationships.

He said a safety plan would help him recognise the signs of being off track.

Dally explained that some of the gaps in his plan were because he struggled with literacy and he was better able to explain ideas verbally.

He was finding it hard to secure accommodation for when he was released.

Dally's lawyer Emma Priest said she would work with an organisation that could be suitable to develop a proposal for him.

Reporting restrictions on parole hearings mean RNZ cannot identify details about where a prisoner proposes they are released to.

Where to get help:

Sexual Violence

NZ Police

Victim Support 0800 842 846

Rape Crisis 0800 88 33 00

Rape Prevention Education

Empowerment Trust

HELP Call 24/7 (Auckland): 09 623 1700, (Wellington): 04 801 6655 - push 0 at the menu

Safe to talk: a 24/7 confidential helpline for survivors, support people and those with harmful sexual behaviour: 0800044334

Male Survivors Aotearoa

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) 022 344 0496